Where’s Mitt’s Pivot? Or, Will The REAL Mitt Romney Please Stand Up?
Typically, once a candidate has secured the party nomination, he or she “pivots” to the General election. This is code for moving back toward the center. No candidate this year is expected to pivot harder than Mitt Romney. The spectacle of the Republican primary season was ultimately about Romney moving further and further right in an attempt to persuade the GOP base that he truly is “severely conservative.”
Moving on to the general election, conventional wisdom holds that Mitt needs to desperately claw back some of that crazy. Even his campaign adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, admitted as much in his now-infamous “Etch-a-Sketch” comments. So here we are: time to move to the center…what has Romney been up to?
…in a panel discussion on Tuesday,Vin Weber, a senior adviser to Mr. Romney, indicated that the campaign might be moving toward positions on fiscal policy that were close to those proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and his Republican colleagues on the House Budget Committee. (Simon Johnson – NYT)
Before you dismiss the significance here, we’re not just talking about a presidential candidate cozying up to incumbent party leaders.We’re talking about Romney moving further right than he was during the primaries. For example, if Romney indeed embraces Ryan’s plan, he would be embracing the end of our current Medicare system. It would be unprecedented for a major party candidate to actually run in the general election on such an extreme agenda.
On the other hand, there are areas where Romney has made the pivot. (Read: a polite word for “flip-flop”.) For example, Romney very publicly broke to the left this week on student loan rates. This is the same guy who, during the primaries told students they would be getting no breaks on loans from a Romney regime.
“The right course for America is … for us to make sure that we provide loans to the extent we possibly can at an interest rate that doesn’t have the taxpayers having to subsidize people who want to go to school”
But now that someone clued him into the whole “youth vote” thing? He’s a new man. (He can be excused for ignoring the youth vote during the GOP primaries: they don’t have that.)
Want more? It appears Mitt’s also learned that there’s such a thing as the “Latino vote” in the general. (So foreign!) While the campaign still has no Spanish-language website, or even a spokesperson, he has come around on the DREAM Act (a little):
Romney’s campaign has been soft-pedaling its association with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a hardline anti-immigration advocate, while the former governor announced that he is studying Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s version of the DREAM Act—a contrast with primary campaign Romney who advocated “self-deportation” and denounced the original DREAM Act as “amnesty.” (US News)
In fact, if BuzzFeed is to be believed, Romney has already attempted 96 pivots, and is working on his 97th. So yes, it’s official: the General is on, baby.
The question remains: who is the real Mitt Romney? Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever know. But I do find it telling that of all the general election pivots so far, the only one away from the center has been to become even more severely conservative on tax cuts for the 1% and draconian cuts to social services for everyone else.